Your Free Career Assistance Guide
Your Free Career Assistance Guide
The content in this guide is provided for general information only, and is not intended to address specific circumstances of any particular individuals. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.
Starting a career isn’t an easy process. It involves careful preparation and knowledge of the resources available.
From tips on building a resume to tips on preparing for a job interview, this career assistance guide serves as a helpful resource you can use to learn helpful tips to secure a job and grow in your career.
Tips for Building an Effective Resume
Think of your resume as a first impression. It can be the deciding factor on whether potential employers call you in for a job interview. As such, it should contain the most important information about your experience, achievements and education.
Potential employers may only spend around 30 seconds scanning through your resume, so the goal is for the information you provide to grab their attention. Here are some tips for building an effective resume.
Include Contact Information
When it comes to contact information, you don’t want to disclose all of your personal information but you do want to include various ways for an employer to reach you. Include a small section beneath your name that includes any or all of the following ways to get in touch with you:
- Phone number
- LinkedIn profile URL
- Social media URLs
- These should only be included if you use social media professionally. Otherwise, consider keeping your accounts private. By including your social media, employers can get an idea of your portfolio and what you bring to the table.
Your LinkedIn profile and social media URLs may even assist you with making an impact on the hiring manager, as they can serve as additional resources for getting to know you as a professional.
When you find a few job listings that interest you, read the description of each listing and highlight the keywords they use while describing the position. Keywords may be a skill or achievement that is important to the job. Oftentimes, employers use keywords that emphasize the most important tasks or skills that they are looking for in job candidates.
These keywords can be found throughout the job listing, but a good place to start is in areas with titles such as “Qualifications” or “Necessary Skills.” Pick out a few of the keywords, such as industry-specific terms of certifications, and utilize them in your own resume. However, it’s best to only include them if they apply to you and your previous job experience.
Potential employers are often extremely interested in how well you did in your previous positions. Whenever possible, you can use numbers to express your achievements. It shows potential employers that your skills are measurable and are verified by the data you provide.
For example, if you helped lower company costs, express the percentage by which you helped lower them:
- Implemented a budget that led to a 15% decrease in annual expenses.
A few other examples include:
- Led a social media campaign that resulted in a 20% increase in engagement.
- Increased profits by 5% each quarter.
Only Include What Is Relevant and True
You may have a long employment history that began in your teenage years. But it is better to keep your resume brief and include only the most relevant information based on the job you are applying for.
Remember, if your goal is to get a job interview, you will have time during the interview to discuss your first job or academic achievements. So, you need only include the jobs and skills that are accurate and related to the position for which you are applying.
Use Bullet Points and Action Words
Hiring managers may only briefly scan resumes. To make it as easy as possible for them to find your achievements, you can use bullet points when discussing your achievements and skills instead of long, drawn-out sentences.
Beginning each bullet point with a strong verb is a good way to be straight to the point. For example:
In this format, hiring managers can quickly understand what you accomplished in your prior roles and what you will bring to the table in your new one.
Tailor It to the Job Listing
Your resume may not be a one-size-fits-all document. If you are applying to multiple job listings in slightly different fields, it may be important to tailor your resume to each one.
You want to provide the most relevant information in your resume, which may change from job to job. Save your resume and use it as a template as you apply to various positions. You may find it appropriate to change the action words, substitute a different job experience or add another achievement that pertains to the job you are applying for.
Keep It Brief
Generally, your resume should be no more than one page. If you have already had a long and extensive professional career, one page may not be possible. So, if your information spills over into multiple pages, it’s a good idea to prioritize.
The most relevant or important information should go at the top of the page. Under each of your previous job roles, consider including no more than three bullet points highlighting your achievements in those roles.
Additionally, consider leaving out previous job roles if you held them more than 10 years ago.
If you are in high school or college and do not have previous work experience, there’s no need to provide a job experience section. Instead, include any relevant coursework or extracurriculars.
Make It Professional
Your resume doesn’t have to be boring, but avoid using “fun” or “fancy” fonts. It should be as professional and easy-to-read as possible.
Here are some tips for making your resume professional:
- Use a standard font, like Arial or Times New Roman.
- Be sure to keep your font size to 10 or 12-point.
- Each section of your resume should have a header, but the text beneath should be standard.
- Do not use colored text or pictures.
- When selecting a template, choose one that is visually appealing and minimizes white space.
Proofread Your Resume
If your resume includes a typo, hiring managers may not give it the time of day. Once you’re finished writing your resume, proofread it slowly to find any grammatical errors or spelling mistakes. Submitting your resume only after reading it over is a good way to ensure you’ve caught any misspellings or mistakes.
It may be a good idea to have a friend, family member or career advisor look over your resume, too. They may be able to spot mistakes that you missed.
Don’t Lie or Embellish
It may be tempting, but it’s important to be honest about your past experience on your resume. Even if you do get called for an interview, the truth will likely come out. Using fluff words when describing your achievements or skills may be counterproductive in the long run.
Look at Resume Samples
Resumes may look different depending on the job field. By looking over a few sample resumes from your occupational field, you can get an understanding of things you should include. You can usually find sample resumes by doing a quick search online.
The samples you see online may not apply word-for-word to your own skills and achievements. So, they may not be the best example of what to use as a template. Instead, they can be used to get ideas about the kind of information employers in your field are looking for in a resume.
Browse several types of resume samples on the Indeed website here: https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/resume-samples
Tips to Make an Impact With Your Cover Letter
Job seekers often skip over one of the most important parts of the job search: creating a cover letter.
A cover letter is a short summary of who you are as an employee and explains why you are a good fit for the job. A good rule of thumb if you are unsure is: if you need to send a resume, you should also send a cover letter.
Writing an impactful cover letter starts with understanding the basics. Like a resume, it’s important to keep it brief while highlighting the most relevant information. For tips on how to make an impact with your own cover letter, continue reading the sections below.
Writing an Eye-Catching Opener
The opening lines of your cover letter are arguably the most important sentences of the entire document. Since cover letters should typically only be a single page long, your opening lines should entice a hiring manager to keep reading.
There are many ways you can begin your cover letter. Here are a few examples:
- Emphasize Your Achievements
With this method, you are providing the hiring manager with an eye-catching statistic or fact about what you achieved in a previous role. It should relate in some way to the position you are applying for. Instead of a typical greeting, this opening line cuts right to the point and allows you to immediately highlight your most relevant (and often most recent) achievement.
This type of opening line is not meant to provide any sort of detail; you will explain and back up your claim in the body of the letter. Emphasizing your skills in the opener is a way to keep the hiring manager interested and persuade him or her to continue reading.
- Communicate Your Enthusiasm
Your opening lines could express your excitement about applying for this position. Employers appreciate enthusiasm about work because it shows you are a motivated employee. If you appreciate the company’s work or are a fan of their mission, you may express that, too.
- Discuss The Company’s Achievements
With this type of opening line, you want to mention a statistic or nod to the company’s recent achievements. Express your excitement about how you would feel working for a company that has accomplished something newsworthy.
If the company you are applying to was recently highlighted in a magazine or journal, mentioning your knowledge of this to the employer shows that you keep up with news surrounding the job field.
- Tell a Story
This may extend beyond just the opening line, but telling a creative story specific to the job industry or a previous role is a unique way to grab the attention of the hiring manager. It’s important to keep it brief – just a sentence or two – but it is a unique way to highlight your creativity.
If you choose to take this approach, do some research about the company to gauge their tone. Some companies encourage creativity in your cover letter, like those in the marketing or social media field. If the job listing is for a particularly serious role, it may be best to utilize another method.
Writing a Solid Body
However you choose to start your cover letter, the body of the cover letter should discuss why you would be a good fit for the position you are applying to. The body of the letter is your chance to back up your opening statements, discuss the job at hand and directly relate your past experience to this new job.
To help you understand what needs to go into the body of the cover letter, you can ask yourself these questions:
- How will I convey my qualifications for this job?
- How can I show that I am a good match for the company?
- Which of my achievements show that I am qualified?
You can start the body of the cover letter by bridging your qualifications with the requirements of the position. In this way, you can show hiring managers the explicit connections between what you did in your previous positions and what you’ll do in this new role. State how you could contribute to and fulfill the needs of the company based on your qualifications.
To maximize readability, you can use several short paragraphs rather than one giant block of text. This will make it easy for the hiring manager to absorb important information in a short period of time. You may consider providing this information in a bulleted list, but keep it brief. Remember, the typical rule of thumb for cover letters is that they should be no more than one page long.
Writing a Good Conclusion
The concluding paragraph of your cover letter is your final chance at making a lasting impact on your potential employer. It should wrap up your letter in a few brief sentences while prompting the hiring manager to take action (to call you in for an interview or read your resume).
Consider starting your conclusion paragraph by thanking the reader for his or her time in carefully reading through your letter.
Thank you for taking the time to review my qualifications for this position.
Then, you can nudge him or her in the next direction by expressing your interest in speaking further about your qualifications in an interview. The key is to do this respectfully; never demand or expect an interview. For example:
I look forward to any opportunity to discuss my qualifications further.
In the next sentence or two, you can summarize the most relevant reasons why you would be the perfect candidate for the job. Just like on your resume, it would be helpful to research the company and review the job listing so you can use keywords in these last sentences. You can frame it in a way that states what you can do for the company, not the other way around.
Lastly, some people like to provide a sentence restating contact information and how the hiring manager can reach you. This can help push the hiring manager to take action and contact you for an interview. Then, be sure to end the letter with a professional closing, such as, “Kind regards,” “Thank you,” or “Sincerely.”
Tips for Creating a LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn is the largest online network of professionals in the world. It’s part social network and part career development website. If you are at any step of the job search process, you may want to take a few minutes to create a LinkedIn profile or optimize your current one.
Having a LinkedIn profile can be the first step toward finding your next job. But, knowing how to use the site correctly can help you stand out among other job candidates. Learn tips to create a LinkedIn profile in the sections below.
Personalize Your URL
When you create a LinkedIn profile, you will be assigned a randomly-generated URL that leads users to your profile. The URL has no connection to your name whatsoever, making it easy to forget and difficult to search for.
LinkedIn allows you to customize your URL so it is easier to use and more visually appealing. You can change your URL to include your full name. Once you change it, you can easily use this link on your resume, cover letter, business card or anywhere else you see fit. It will be easy to remember and give your LinkedIn profile a higher chance of showing up on Google if someone searches for your name.
Choose a Professional Picture
Your face is the first thing employers and job recruiters will see when your name pops up in a job search. When choosing a photo, it may be best to avoid selfies and photos with busy backgrounds. It may seem obvious, but choosing a profile picture with multiple people may work against you, as employers won’t know who you are.
Another factor to consider is choosing a picture that is representative of your industry. Using a college graduation photo is acceptable if you recently left school, but it should be a recent picture. If you are 10 years out of college, it may be best to use a different photo.
Ideally, your face is clearly visible and the lighting is good in your profile picture. Applying any filters or edits to your headshot is also not widely recommended. If possible, invest in a professional headshot that you can use for the next few years. If you cannot take professional headshots, consider asking a friend or family member to take one for you from the shoulders up.
Use a Cover Photo
In addition to a profile photo, LinkedIn allows you to upload a cover photo (a banner photo at the top of your profile). You can use this space to make your profile more visually attractive and appeal to your industry. Creating a type of “personal brand” is one way to make job recruiters remember you.
Make sure that your cover photo does not clash with your profile photo. Both should have similar themes that are visually appealing and complementary to one another.
Optimize Your Headline
Your profile photo might be the first thing people see when they visit your LinkedIn profile, but the headline is the first thing they read. A headline is a one- to three-line statement that summarizes who you are as an employee.
Your headline should contain keywords if you want your LinkedIn profile to show up on web searches. These keywords depend on your occupational field and specific skills or qualifications. Use common search terms or words you see pop up in job listings that you are interested in.
Think like a job recruiter; what would they search for if they were looking for a job candidate like yourself?
If you are located in a specific area, consider using the city or town name in your headline to narrow the recruiter’s results. Similarly, if you are actively looking for a new position, communicate that in your headline by including words like “seeking full-time employment” or “actively pursuing a new position.”
If you are a student or recent graduate, you can use your headline to convey your expected date of graduation and field of interest. You may choose to include specific job titles as well.
Talk About You
Your LinkedIn profile has an “About” section where you can provide more information about yourself. View this as a chance to sell yourself to potential employers. It allows you to expand on the points you made in your header and give context to any of your listed skills and/or qualifications. It also brings a human touch to the job search process.
There are many approaches you can take to writing this section. Like your cover letter, you want to grab the reader’s attention with a strong opener.
Then, state your mission: What is the reason you do what you do?
If you are passionate about your industry, give an example or tell a short story about how you came to be involved in your occupational field.
The “Skills” section works similarly, but it’s where you can really optimize your chosen skills to gain credibility. Any skill you choose for your profile increases searchability, which means your name will show up in a pool of applicants if a recruiter searches for a skill that you have.
Note: Your skills can be “endorsed” by other people, like coworkers, previous supervisors or friends. The more people that endorse your skill, the higher your chances of showing up in a job search for that skill. So don’t hesitate to reach out to coworkers who can vouch for your skills.
Upload Media and Include Links
Job recruiters don’t just want to read about your skills and accomplishments – they want to see them. Use the “Featured” section of your profile to upload project documents, portfolios, videos, photos or scans.
If your work is showcased on another website or you have your own website, add the links to this section so that recruiters can view your achievements.
Note: If you want to add links to other social media platforms, make sure the content you have on those pages is professional.
Websites and Apps for Finding a Job Online
When it comes to job searching, the internet is one of your greatest resources. You can search for job openings from the comfort of your own couch. Job search websites and apps are extremely helpful in comparing job listings and helping you narrow down results.
No matter your occupational field, you can use job search websites and mobile apps to find openings throughout the country. These sites allow you to search, filter and save results; some even allow you to apply directly on the website or app landing page.
We’ve compiled a list of some popular websites and apps for finding a job online. Continue reading the sections below to learn about each one.
Indeed is one of the most popular online job boards in the world. It is available online and on the Indeed Job Search app. Employers can post their job listings directly on the site for job seekers to search and find. It also pulls job listings from other career sites and classified listings and displays them on its own results page, expanding the pool of listings exponentially.
Indeed lets you search for open positions in a specific area or even find remote positions. You can further filter your results by salary range, job type and industry. You can even upload your resume to the website so you can apply directly from the results page. If you see a job you are interested in and have your resume on the site, you can sometimes apply with just one click.
Access Indeed here: https://www.indeed.com/
This social network for professionals is a top choice among job seekers who are interested in building a network while finding a career. It is available online and on a mobile app. Once you create a profile, it is visible to employers around the world who are searching for candidates with the skills and experience you provide on your profile.
You can connect with mutual friends, colleagues and supervisors who are also on LinkedIn; any of your connections can refer you to a job or suggest you as a candidate. These connections can also endorse the skills you list on your profile, increasing your chances of appearing on an employer’s job search.
Access LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/
If you are interested in learning more about a company before applying for an open position, you can use Glassdoor. This website and mobile app lets you read employee reviews of thousands of companies, many of which include salary amounts and benefits information. This can be helpful to you if pay range is one of your top job search priorities.
Glassdoor has reviews from current and past employees so you can have more accurate and up-to-date information available about what it’s like working at the company you are interested in. The site gives you an insider’s perspective into the culture of the company, allowing you to make the most informed decision about applying for a job.
Access Glassdoor here: https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm
As one of the oldest job boards, Monster has built a reputation as an easy-to-use, all-in-one job website. It is available online and through a mobile app. Like the website Indeed, with Monster you can search for jobs and use filters to narrow your search results. It has job listings for all experience levels and job types.
By creating a free account on Monster, you can access more resources, such as applying to jobs, saving job listings you’re interested in, and receiving alerts when new job listings are posted. You can highlight some “must-have” features of your desired position, and Monster will send you an email when there is a new job opening that matches those features.
Access Monster here: https://www.monster.com/
CareerBuilder is another website and staple of the online job board industry. Available online and through a mobile app, the CareerBuilder job search site uses Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) to match you with the most relevant job listings out there. Like Indeed and Monster, you can use filters to narrow your search by location, job type, pay range and experience level.
Aside from job listings, CareerBuilder offers advice and resources for job seekers of all experience levels. These blog-style posts cover everything from the fastest-growing jobs to tips for optimizing your resume.
Access CareerBuilder here: https://www.careerbuilder.com/
If you are looking for remote positions or work-from-home careers, FlexJobs is a great resource for online job listings. It was founded with remote work in mind and continues to be a popular site for job seekers interested in remote positions. It contains listings for:
- Freelance/independent contractor jobs
- 100% remote roles
- Telecommute (home-based) jobs
- Office-based jobs with remote options
FlexJobs is not free. You must pay to subscribe to this job board. Investing in a job search service will not guarantee you finding a job, but the service offers advanced searching tools and profile features.
Access FlexJobs here: https://www.flexjobs.com/
SnagAJob is a great online resource for anyone interested in finding hourly jobs. It is available online and through a mobile app. When creating your SnagAJob account, you can create your profile quickly and easily by importing your social media profile (like Facebook or Google Plus) so you can begin searching for jobs that pay by the hour anywhere in the U.S.
To narrow your search results, utilize one or more of SnagAJob’s search filters. You can search by industry, schedule type (like seasonal or part-time) and distance. If distance is a priority for you, you can use the map tool to see where the company is located before applying.
Access SnagAJob here: https://www.snagajob.com/
SimplyHired is available online and through a mobile app. As with various other services, you must make an account to access listings. This job board pulls online listings from dozens of career sites and displays them on one user-friendly interface. After searching for jobs, you can save them to your favorites or share them with other job seekers.
Note: While many jobs listed on SimplyHired allow you to apply with just a click, some may require a lengthy application process that can be difficult to navigate on a mobile device.
Access SimplyHired here: https://www.simplyhired.com/
7 Examples of Work From Home Jobs in the U.S.
Working from home is one of the most coveted types of jobs available. Remote work is available in dozens of industries. It may be surprising to learn that there are a multitude of companies with remote positions throughout the United States.
Working remotely has advantages for employees as well as employers. Employees save time and money by skipping the daily commute, while employers may enjoy increased productivity and lower office-related bills.
Depending on your work experience, personal situation and preference, there are plenty of available jobs that allow you to work from home. Below, find seven examples of remote, work-from-home jobs in the U.S.
- Customer Service Representative
A customer service representative has a place in various companies across different job industries. You can find this role in retail, health care, sales, non-profit, insurance and other industries. This job can often be successfully done at home with a computer, headset and connection to the internet, making it one of the most popular remote positions available.
Depending on the industry, your primary duties as a customer service representative may involve:
- Processing orders,
- Handling customer complaints,
- Answering questions,
- Reviewing customer accounts and
- Maintaining customer records.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) at the time of writing (2021), the median pay for a customer service representative is $34,710 per year.
- Computer Support Specialist
If you enjoy working with computers and have the skill to resolve common issues, you may find a career as a computer support specialist engaging. This role is widely available in the IT, financial, insurance and data processing fields. Many companies are offering these roles in remote formats because all you typically need is a computer, headset and internet connection.
As more Americans transition to remote work, the need for knowledgeable computer support specialists grows. Job duties include:
- Answering questions,
- Walking customers through troubleshooting,
- Evaluating network systems,
- Running diagnostic checks and
- Performing maintenance.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) as of 2021, the median pay for a computer support specialist is $54,760 per year.
- Web Developer
Web developers design, create and maintain websites for a variety of clients across diverse job industries. If you are web-savvy and understand computer coding, you may find an enjoyable remote position in this field. Many web developers are self-employed, but you can find jobs at advertising, public relations, computer system design and technical companies.
The primary job tasks for web developers are:
- Creating and testing applications,
- Writing code,
- Meeting with potential clients,
- Creating prototypes and mock-ups,
- Collaborating with graphic designers and
- Monitoring web traffic.
This job is easy to do from home, as most of these tasks are completed via a computer or mobile device.
As of 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8 percent job growth throughout the next decade for web developers. The median pay for a web developer is $73,760 per year.
If you are a bilingual job candidate, you may consider working remotely as an interpreter or translator. The need for bilingual employees is growing among companies and corporations in all job sectors. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 20 percent growth throughout the next decade.
Interpreters work with spoken language and sign language while translators work with written or audio material. Most find employment in the technical and scientific field, schools, hospitals or other government facilities, though you can also work for yourself as a self-employed interpreter or translator.
As of 2021, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for an interpreter or translator is $51,830 per year.
- Sales Agent
The field of sales is diverse, but many companies are looking to hire remote workers as agents and representatives. Sales agents can work in the advertising, insurance, financial services, real estate and travel industries. You can be a remote sales agent with a computer, headset and internet connection.
- Speaking with potential customers or clients,
- Providing quotes or estimates for services,
- Preparing promotional plans and
- Processing correspondents.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) provides the following annual median pay ranges for sales agents as of writing in 2021:
- Advertising sales agents – $53,310
- Insurance sales agents – $50,940
- Travel sales agents – $40,660
- Financial services sales agents – $62,270
- Real estate sales agents – $50,730
- Data Entry Specialist
Data entry specialists process written information and upload it into a computer system. Sometimes referred to as information clerks or data entry clerks, these individuals can find jobs in the health care, hospitality, information, government and human resources industries.
This position works well in a remote setting; all you typically need is a computer, connection to the internet and a way to communicate. Primary duties of a data entry specialist include:
- Inputting data,
- Collecting records,
- Processing information and
- Utilizing processing systems.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for a data entry specialist is $35,390 per year as of this writing in 2021.
Writers and editors can find plenty of remote positions available across diverse occupational fields. Many companies are in need of skilled creators to generate content for online and manual publications. Many writers and editors are self-employed and work according to their own schedules. However, fixed remote positions also exist in the technical, scientific, educational and advertising industries.
Writers generate content for a variety of purposes, like entertainment, sales or advertising. Editors work with writers to ensure content is appropriate for the target audience and is free of errors.
As of this writing in 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) lists annual median salaries for writers and editors depending on job industry as follows:
- Technical writers – $72,850
- Writers and authors – $63,200
- Editors – $61,370
Tips for Highlighting Your Skills During an Interview
The interview is an important step in the job search process. It’s your chance to really sell your skills and convince the hiring manager that you are the best candidate for the position.
Your job interview should not be a summarization of your resume or cover letter. Instead, it’s an opportunity to expand upon the information you’ve already provided the hiring manager and provide further details about your specific skills and the type of employee you will be. How will your set of skills benefit the company?
During the interview, the hiring manager will typically ask a range of questions about your background to gauge whether you will be a good fit. Being prepared to answer these types of questions, as well as how to articulate how you plan to apply your skills to the job you are interviewing for, is an important factor in having a successful interview.
Below, learn helpful tips on how to highlight your skills during a job interview.
Do Your Homework
One of the biggest mistakes job seekers can make is failing to research the company for which they are interviewing. Without this research, you won’t have any talking points to fall back on with the hiring manager.
How will you know the skills the company values if you do not familiarize yourself with the company?
Before your job interview (and even before sending your resume), you can do some research into the company to find anything you could potentially discuss with the interviewer. If the company has a website, a helpful tip is to write down a few interesting points of discussion. Visit the company’s social media pages (if it has any) to get a better understanding of the company’s tone and mission.
For example, if, during your research, you find that the company has an issue or is dealing with a roadblock, you can use this to your advantage by discussing ways in which you can help resolve it using your specific skill set, experience and achievements while in the interview.
Personal referrals are other great tools to have in your kit. If you personally know someone who works for the company, you can reach out to them and get their opinion on the interview process. Learning more about the company from an employee can help you better understand the characteristics and qualities the company is looking for in a job candidate.
Refer to the Job Listing
Oftentimes, you can find job requirements and necessary skills listed right on the job post of the position you are interviewing for. You can refer to these requirements during your interview and explain how you meet or exceed them.
Hiring managers want to be sure you have the required skills to meet the qualifications of the job. Aside from learning about the skills you have, they typically want to know how you will implement them in your prospective role.
Present a Narrative
If your previous job is similar to the one you are interviewing for, a helpful tip is to prepare a short narrative or scenario to bring up during the interview. You can use this story to highlight a specific skill that you used to succeed in your previous role, such as resolving an issue, increasing profits or decreasing spending.
This is one way you can keep the focus of the interview on your skills and how you will be an asset to the company. If you choose to discuss a story or scenario from a prior role, keep it short and to the point; usually, it’s best to avoid going off on long tangents and only include details that would be relevant to the position you are interviewing for.
The STAR method is an interview technique that you can use to tell a story or highlight an example. STAR stands for:
- Situation – describe your past experience
- Task – discuss your responsibility in that situation
- Action – explain the steps you took in response to the situation
- Result – describe the result of your actions
This technique can help you keep your story focused and concise. The interviewer is presented with a clear narrative and will have a chance to respond to your example and ask further questions.
Explain Your Actions
Explaining the steps you took to resolve an issue is great, but explaining the reasoning behind your actions is even better. Hiring managers may find it beneficial to understand why you took a certain action in response to a problem. So, you can discuss your reasoning behind your decision-making process. Why did you take those steps to resolve the issue?
For example, let’s say you want to highlight your customer service skills by providing an example of a time when you satisfied a customer complaint. How did you resolve the issue, and why did you resolve it in the manner that you did? Explaining your thought process behind your actions shows the interviewer that you are disciplined and think critically before acting.
10 In-Demand Hard Skills and Soft Skills in the Modern Workplace
During a job search, employers seek out candidates with both hard and soft skills.
A hard skill is something that is measurable and specific to the job. Examples of hard skills include analytical skills, automotive skills and technical skills.
A soft skill is a characteristic or personality trait that makes you an attractive employee overall. Examples of soft skills include strong communication, conflict resolution and teamwork.
In the modern workplace, employees oftentimes need a solid set of both types of skills to be successful. Continue reading the sections below to find a list of hard and soft skills that are in demand today.
Valuable Hard Skills
As technology progresses, the demand for tech-savvy employees grows. Many employers who are not necessarily focused on technology are expanding to include IT departments to keep up with this demand. Technology and computer-based companies are growing rapidly and looking for job candidates with knowledge and experience in many facets of technology.
Some of the most in-demand hard skills in today’s workplace are listed below:
- Analytical Reasoning
Analytical reasoning relies on your ability to consider facts and statements of a situation and apply logic in order to find patterns. This skill is important in predicting certain events for problem-solving and decision-making in the workplace. It also incorporates many aspects of critical thinking and attention to detail.
- App Development
App development is one of the fastest-growing job duties in the tech industry. Millions of people worldwide have smartphones. So, the need for seamless, bug-free mobile apps is in high demand. The process of developing apps requires knowledge of specific coding languages and skills. However, programming apps with code is not the only type of job available in app development. Other hard skill sets like project management and user experience and interface (UX UI) are needed on app development teams; and these apps can be used to provide a simple user experience, easy-to-access information and more.
- Software Development
Like app development, software development requires in-depth knowledge of computers and processing. Software companies are responsible for designing, programming and maintaining web applications to keep software programs, websites and online businesses running consistently.
There are many other growing industries that prioritize other hard skills. Technology is important, but it doesn’t serve its purpose if it is inaccessible to the general population.
The following list includes other valued hard skills in the workplace:
Having excellent sales skills is attractive to many employers, even those that are not necessarily focused on selling products. The practice of selling something applies to onboarding new customers, reaching new clients and delivering products or ideas to consumers.
If you succeed in managing others, you may find plenty of job opportunities across diverse job industries. Having the ability to manage coworkers and colleagues efficiently shows that you are able to ensure the job gets done.
- Business Analysis
Having business analysis skills means you have the ability to improve and adjust business models for an ever-changing business world. This is an enticing skill to employers because it shows you possess flexibility and knowledge of complex data.
- Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing is one of the fastest-growing marketing models out there. This process involves earning commission by promoting another’s products, goods or services online. Candidates who show strength in this area can help to grow a company’s revenue substantially.
- Social Media
Social media is transforming the marketing and public relations industries. It’s no longer just a way to connect with friends and family; it’s a way for businesses to reach millions of potential customers and clients. Understanding the relationship between sales and social media makes you a stand-out employee for many positions.
Valuable Soft Skills
Some employers may value soft skills more than hard skills. Soft skills often build naturally over time and are not as easy to teach as hard skills. To work effectively in the modern workplace setting, it is beneficial to have some or all of the following top soft skills:
- Critical Thinking
The ability to think critically is crucial in almost every position, as it helps reduce the number of mistakes in the workplace. If you can think critically, you understand your abilities as a worker and apply them to the task at hand consciously and effectively.
Unless you are self-employed, one-person operation, you likely work alongside a team of colleagues and coworkers in a daily or weekly setting. Your job tasks and duties might require the collaboration of diverse individuals. Employers typically favor employees who know how to work within and bring together a group of very different people to accomplish the goals of the company.
- Continuous Learning
Constantly adding to and improving upon your set of skills shows employers that you value your position and want to get ahead. The business world changes frequently; if you want to be a successful employee, try to be flexible enough to roll with these changes and eager enough to stay ahead of them.
- Emotional Intelligence
In order to maintain a level of professionalism, it is imperative to control your emotions and be in touch with the emotions of your coworkers. This does not mean you should check your emotions at the door; it simply means understanding why you may feel a certain way or empathizing with someone around you.
Communication is key, no matter the position or job environment in which you work. Having good communication skills means knowing when to ask for help and when to provide assistance to your colleagues. It is one of the most important skills to have if you work remotely.
- Time Management
Employers appreciate someone who can stay on top of their tasks without the need for constant reminders. Time management is crucial in many occupational industries, especially in those that require meeting deadlines.
Adaptability is similar to continuous learning in the sense that you are willing to grow and change with your industry. Instead of sticking with a comfortable way of doing your job, it is important to be open to new ideas and methods.
Being organized is one way in which you can remain independent in your position. Depending on your specific career industry, organization can be physical (such as using filing cabinets) or technological (like using a smart assistant or smart phone).
When an issue arises in the workplace, employers want to be sure that you can handle it. Having problem-solving skills means that you approach the issue in a multitude of ways, thinking creatively and positively rather than giving up.
Creativity goes hand-in-hand with problem-solving, as you often need to be creative when thinking of ways to solve a conflict or roadblock in the workplace. Creativity also means pitching new approaches and ideas to help your company succeed in its industry.
Websites for Employment Training Courses and Resources
If you are looking to expand your skill set to advance your career, there are many websites (some free and some paid) you can use to help you do just that. Online employment training courses give you the opportunity to learn a new skill or fine-tune an existing one. They are available from several educational and professional learning companies.
Depending on your occupational field, there may be hundreds of resources available for you to increase your skills and broaden your knowledge in your field of interest. From learning how to use a new application software to honing a soft skill, you can find an online course or resource for just about every topic.
Here are some helpful websites for employment training courses and resources:
Whether you are looking for free training resources or plan to invest in a full-time course, Udemy has online classes and presentations in a variety of fields. You can find courses in business, finance, office productivity and general career development, some of which are free to use. Courses are offered by knowledgeable entrepreneurs, professors and experts in each field.
Access Udemy here: https://www.udemy.com
LinkedIn is a free professional networking platform that allows you to search for jobs and make professional connections. However, it also offers a subscription service called LinkedIn Learning, which gives you access to employment resources and education courses in business, art, finance, technology and education. New users can sign up for a free one-month trial.
Access LinkedIn Learning here: https://www.linkedin.com/learning
Skillshare has more than 30,000 online courses in nearly every career focus. The site is geared toward employees who want to learn or fine-tune a skill in short spans each day. Courses are taught by expert instructors and professionals who exceed in their respective fields.
Access Skillshare here: https://www.skillshare.com
If you are interested in earning college credit or even a degree from a university, you might consider enrolling in Coursera. This website has thousands of courses supported by colleges and universities that provide you with a degree or credit at the conclusion. Coursera also offers non-college credit courses to help you master a new skill.
Access Coursera here: https://www.coursera.org
Access thousands of free courses in design, language, technology, science and more with Alison. Some courses award you with a degree or certificate, while others provide you with the knowledge to hone a specific skill. No matter where you are in your career, you can find courses to fit your level of experience.
Access Alison here: https://alison.com
OpenSesame is tailored to professionals and offers online resources to share workplace skills. The site has e-learning advisors that curate course plans for companies as well as individual customers. If you aren’t sure where to begin, advisors can help you determine your needs, establish goals and find appropriate courses.
Access OpenSesame here: https://www.opensesame.com
At Thinkful, you can work with a mentor online so you don’t have to navigate the world of employment training alone. He or she can help you create personal career goals and provide a pathway to achieve those goals. Some of the courses offered on this site even guarantee a job at the conclusion of the course and won’t charge you until you are employed.
Access Thinkful here: https://www.thinkful.com
If you are considering a career in computer technology or are interested in learning more about coding, consider signing up for Treehouse. This site is geared toward the computer and information technology industry, offering courses and degrees in programming, coding, web development and more. The degree courses provide comprehensive instruction to prepare you for a career, while the skills courses give you the tools to master a specific skill.
Access Treehouse here: https://teamtreehouse.com
CreativeLive is a platform that offers live courses and presentations prepared by industry leaders in a wide array of topics. Some of the streaming courses are free of charge while other scheduled classes charge a fee. You can find courses in business, photography, marketing, communication, writing and more.
Access CreativeLive here: https://www.creativelive.com/
Tips for New Graduates Entering the Workforce & Tips for Reentering the Workforce
The workforce changes frequently to reflect changes in ideas, technology, social structure and methods of communication. For recent college graduates, understanding how the workforce is operating can help you prepare for the application and interview processes. Similarly, working adults who are reentering the workforce after a leave of absence should consider how it may have changed since the last time they were employed.
Entering the workforce for the first time can seem intimidating, but college graduates are some of the best-equipped potential employees out there. Fresh and full of the latest skills and knowledge of new industries, they are often eager to start and quick to learn.
Adults who are reentering the workforce face similar uncertainty, but they can feel confident in knowing they are often some of the most experienced job candidates. Equipped with both professional and real-world experience, they can stand out to employers as independent and trustworthy applicants.
No matter when you are entering the workforce, here are some tips you can use to ease your transition and successfully begin your new career.
5 Tips for New Graduates
- Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Many new graduates may feel nervous or even overwhelmed at the thought of starting a new job for fear of failing or making mistakes. But the fact is, most (if not all) employers who hire recent graduates expect them to make mistakes in the beginning. Fear of failure can persuade you not to take risks and hold you back from succeeding.
When you are just starting out in the workforce, asking questions can help you acclimate to your new job – even if the questions feel silly or obvious. Your employers want you to be successful and typically understand that you are in the midst of a major life change. If you do make a mistake, you can make it a point to discuss it with a supervisor or manager to determine what you could have done differently. This can show you are taking responsibility for your actions.
- Build Your Network
If you are like most recent graduates, your first job will likely not be the only job position you ever hold. Every position you accept gives you a chance to build your network and make lasting professional connections. You never know when a colleague, coworker or supervisor may refer you to another role that better suits your skills.
To help you build a network, you can attend company-wide meetings, outings and events. Get to know the people you work with and, if you enjoy their company, consider getting together outside of work. Personal connections can be just as important as professional connections.
- Make a Good First Impression
It cannot be overstated – first impressions are crucial. Whether it’s your first day on the job or your first time meeting a client, consider using it as an opportunity to make a lasting impression. Common tips to make a good impression are to remember names, maintain eye contact and thank people for their time.
Oftentimes, one of the most important parts of a first impression can be your attire. Although your work clothes might differ depending on your occupational field, it’s always a good idea to consider if you are dressed appropriately for the job. Take heed of what employees are wearing during your interview or at a visit to your workplace.
- Embrace Teamwork
As a recent college graduate, you aren’t expected to know everything about your job or the industry. In the beginning stages of your career, you can benefit from being a team player and working alongside those who have years of experience in your field of work. Be confident in your own skills, knowing you likely bring something to the table that your colleagues have been looking for.
Flexing your soft skills can help you become an established member of your own “team,” no matter what type of work you do. Being a good communicator and offering to help others will allow you to make solid connections with your coworkers.
- Maintain an Active Social Life
This tip may be surprising to some recent graduates, who believe diving headfirst into their career will help them climb the company ladder. However, your career does not have to be your entire life. Finding an outlet on your off days can help you unwind from stressful situations and get some well-deserved rest.
Having a positive social life can also carry over into your work. Having time with your friends and family or exploring your passions on your own can help you feel refreshed and energized to get the work day started. If you revolve your entire life around your career, you may feel the effects of burnout rather quickly.
5 Tips for Employees Reentering the Workforce
- Take a Refresher Course
No matter how long your leave of absence, it can be helpful to refresh your skills and qualifications before reentering the workforce. Things change quickly; make sure that you are aware of these changes and take the proper steps to confront them so you can pick up where you left off.
You can access free employment training courses and resources on dozens of websites. These sites have refresher courses in nearly every professional topic you can think of. Learn more about the “Best Websites for Employment Training Courses and Resources” on page X of this guide.
- Rethink Your Resume
If you have large gaps in employment, it may not be best to arrange your resume chronologically. Instead, you can focus on the specific skills, achievements and qualifications you attained within the positions you did hold. You can create new sections on your resume to fill the white space, such as “Sales Achievements” or “Advertising Experience.”
The goal of submitting a resume is to obtain a job interview. During the interview, you will have the opportunity to talk about the gaps in your employment and highlight the ways in which your time off from the workforce makes you an asset.
- Be Open to Compromise
When you reenter the workforce, you may not be able to secure the same position you once held. Even if you held a high-level position by your industry’s standards, there may be other employees with new skill sets that are better fitted for the position today.
By being open to compromise and expecting that you may need to work your way back up into your desired position, you may have more luck landing your next job. Consider using short-term roles and part-time positions to build your network and skill set as you do so.
- Be Confident
It may feel difficult to compete with recent graduates, who have the most current and up-to-date set of skills available. But don’t forget – you are the one with the experience. Both real-world and professional experience can go a long way during the job search process. Have confidence in your professional self and do whatever tasks/duties are needed to be a valued employee.
- Reopen Your Professional Network
Even if you want to change careers after taking some time off, you likely have a professional network still intact from your prior work experience. It can be a good idea to get in touch with old coworkers, bosses or clients and strike up a conversation. By being open about your job search, they may hold the key to a new connection or possible job opportunity.
Tips for Negotiating for the Salary You Want
Learning how to negotiate for a better salary is an important skill that all employees should have in their repertoire. The reality is, most job candidates avoid talking about compensation for fear of losing the job opportunity altogether.
As a job applicant or an established employee, you are well within your right to discuss salary and negotiate for a number you deserve. Employers will not usually write you off for bringing up your salary. In fact, negotiating your salary can show employers that you care enough about the job to fight for it.
Negotiation can be tricky. But with a bit of insight and these helpful tips, you can learn ways to potentially obtain your desired salary.
Knowing Your Worth
Before you begin salary negotiations, consider doing some research into the average salary for an employee in your position. Take into consideration your level of experience, academic achievements and the region in which you are working. While the position may pay a certain amount in a city, the salary for that same position could be different in a suburban or rural setting.
There are a few online tools you can use to determine the average salary you can expect to receive:
- Payscale: This website lets you take a salary survey to get an estimate of the compensation for a specific job. Access it here: https://www.payscale.com/salary
- Glassdoor: This website lets you read employee reviews and view real salaries for thousands of jobs. Access it here: https://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm
Establishing a Salary Range
Instead of having just one figure, you can choose to come up with a range of numbers that you would be willing to accept. This helps you initiate the negotiation and compromise with your employer if need be. A helpful tip in choosing a salary range can be to choose a range that contains the average salaries for individuals in your field.
For women, it can be helpful to be aware of the gender wage gap, which is the average difference in salary for men and women performing the same job. To avoid falling victim to this gap as a woman, your desired range should be the same as the salaries of males in your line of work.
Practicing Your Pitch
Whether you are negotiating for the first or hundredth time, it can be helpful to practice your pitch before you begin the discussion with an employer. You can practice alone by speaking out loud, or bounce your ideas off a friend or family member. Hearing yourself argue for a salary you deserve can grant you confidence when it’s time to talk to your employer. A friend or family member can even help by proposing tough responses or questions to your pitch, better preparing you for the negotiation.
Stating Your Reasons
You can back up your salary pitch by explaining your reasons for negotiating. Proposing a higher salary isn’t always enough; you can show your employer or hiring manager why you deserve the salary you are negotiating for.
To do this, a helpful tip is to share a story or example that highlights your successes. If you picked up more work and are held to stricter time constraints, you can use it as justification for a higher salary. Employers may oftentimes be more receptive to your proposal if they can see your reasoning behind it.
Preparing for Questions
Once you make your pitch and justify your reasons, the employer or hiring manager may respond with some tough questions. If you are negotiating for a job you want, the hiring manager may ask if the company is your top choice or whether you will accept the offer they give you right away.
A good rule of thumb is to be honest and upfront with the employer. If you are considering many different employers, state that to the hiring manager. Coming off as a trustworthy candidate can help you go a long way in salary negotiations.
Not Accepting the First Offer
While it may be tempting, and depending on your situation, you can consider not accepting the first offer you receive. You may need some time to think it through and decide whether it meets your expectations. You can consider asking for a 24- or 48-hour decision period to consider the offer. This will give you time to weigh your options and prepare a counteroffer.
Consider Negotiating Benefits
Sometimes, hiring managers may be unwilling or unable to negotiate the salary of a position you want. However, this does not necessarily mean negotiations are completely off the table. You may want to consider negotiating the benefits of the position, such as:
- 401(k) contributions
- Paid time off (PTO)
- Sick leave
- Medical coverage
- Vacation days
- Raises and promotions
Popular Careers and Industries for the Future
Choosing a job that is projected to grow throughout the next decade can be a smart career move. Certain job industries are on the rise due to the evolving and rapidly changing world. If you are considering a career change or are just getting started, it may be beneficial to learn about the top careers and industries for the future. For more information, continue reading the sections below.
The healthcare field is projected to be the fastest-growing field throughout the next decade. It comprises hundreds of positions in many facets of medical care and services. Here are three examples of healthcare careers for the future:
- Physician Assistant
A physician assistant (PA) diagnoses illnesses, creates treatment plans, performs procedures and assists physicians during surgeries. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 31 percent growth in this career, adding 39,300 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Nurse Practitioner
A nurse practitioner coordinates patient care and provides advanced nursing services in both primary and specialty healthcare settings. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 52 percent growth in this career, adding 110,700 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Speech-Language Pathologist
A speech-language pathologist diagnoses and treats a wide array of speech, language and swallowing disorders. They can work in a variety of healthcare settings, like hospitals and private practices. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 25 percent growth in this career, adding 40,500 new jobs by the end of the decade.
The technology industry comprises hundreds of thousands of positions across a diverse field of focuses. It revolves around innovation, creation and growth of electronics, software, artificial intelligence (AI) and computers. Here are three examples of popular careers in the technology field for the future:
- Software Developer
Software developers design and create applications that run on computers, smartphones and tablets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22 percent growth in this career, adding 316,000 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Information Security Analyst
Information security analysts keep an organization’s computers and network safe and protected from hackers. They install software to prevent data breaches. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 31 percent growth in this career, adding 40,900 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Data Scientist
Data scientists use statistics, quantitative reasoning and computer programming skills to make inferences and determinations to solve problems. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 15 percent growth in this career, adding 5,000 new jobs by the end of the decade.
Alternative and Renewable Energy
The push for alternative and renewable energy sources means a rapid increase in the demand for careers in this industry. Here are some examples of careers in the alternative and renewable energy industry:
- Wind Turbine Service Technicians
While it is still a relatively new career, individuals who understand and can repair wind turbines are in demand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 61 percent growth in this career, adding 4,300 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Solar Photovoltaic Installers
Solar photovoltaic installers (SV installers) assemble, install and maintain solar panels, which turn solar light into energy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 51 percent growth in this career, adding 6,100 new jobs by the end of the decade.
The social services industry is made up of various sectors that provide services to people. As the population grows, changes and ages, the need for compassionate and skilled employees grows. Here are three examples of careers in the social services industry:
- Personal Care and Home Health Aides
Personal care and home health aides provide assistance to people with disabilities, illnesses or impairments. They visit patients in their own homes and assist with daily activities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 34 percent growth in this career, adding 1,159,500 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Substance Abuse, Mental Health and Behavioral Disorder Counselors
Substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors work with people who battle addiction or are diagnosed with mental illnesses. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 29 percent growth in this career, adding 79,000 new jobs by the end of the decade.
- Marriage and Family Therapists
Marriage and family therapists work with couples and families to resolve conflicts and provide referrals to community services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 22 percent growth in this career, adding 14,800 new jobs by the end of the decade.